29 May 2023

Offer relaxation options and downtime activities

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Support emotional wellbeing and positive mental health’

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Take mindfulness breaks

Take mindfulness breaks

Use these brain breaks to support ākonga to take time out to practise calm for their mind, body and soul.

Invite students to share knowledge about calming or grounding activities from their own culture.

Video hosted on Youtube

Offer tools to release tension

Offer tools to release tension

Movement often reduces tension and assists concentration.

Regular breaks throughout the day, supported by sensory tools, help students to stay focused and calm the nervous system.

Identify with students a range of equipment they would like to use. Consider:

  • swiss balls
  • ergonomic chairs
  • adjustable seating
  • equipment, such as bean bags, stress balls, fidget toys
  • height-adjustable tables
  • noise-reducing headphones
  • weighted blanket

Create a calming box

Create a calming box

Create a calm box for your classroom.

Ask students to recommend objects to reduce agitation or self-soothe.

Include brain break activities.

Adapt to match age group.

Calming box ideas

Word search

Rubik’s Cube

Mini massager

Beads to string


Small puzzle


Stress balls

Eye mask

Weaving activity

Snow globe or kaleidoscope

Weighted blanket

Noise cancelling headphones

Colouring or drawing activity and pens

Collection of heavy stones or decorative eggs to hold

Visual calm down strategy cards

MP3 player with audio books, music guided meditations, or breathing exercises

Kinesthetic strategies

Kinesthetic strategies

Teach students approaches such as yoga or Tai Chi during structured movement breaks.

Explain how these are lifelong tools for wellness and managing stress.

Make explicit links to a Māori perspective on mindfullness.

11680 [Otorohanga-College-yoga.jpg.crdownload.jpg]

Source: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Reflective questions

Reflective questions

Adapt for your own context.
  • How do you model the use of relaxation techniques to manage your own stress?
  • How could you strengthen a culture that values self-care as an integral part of wellbeing?
  • What small changes could you suggest to increase the relaxation options in your learning space?
  • How can you include calming or grounding activities that draw from the cultures represented in your classroom?
  • How will you connect the strategies you include in the classroom to a Māori perspective on mindfulness?

Useful resources

Useful resources


6 second pause strategy and posters

A set of posters for students introducing the calming strategy and its benefits.

Publisher: Goalbook

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Managing emotions: Sparklers

Classroom activities designed for students in years 1–8.

Publisher: Sparklers

Visit website


Mindfulness practice – free resources

A selection of short guided practices in Te Reo Māori and English for children and young adults to calm a busy or anxious mind.

Publisher: Mindfulness Education Group

Visit website

Next steps

Return to the guide “Behaviour and learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Behaviour and learning

Strategies for action: